Hugh stopped in the doorway of Keegan’s back room and looked over at Olivia. The smile that he flashed made her knees weak, and she was tempted to just follow him wherever he was headed. But that was the problem.
“Listen,” she started.
His smile faded. “I think I know where this is going.”
“We can’t do that again.”
Hugh looked at her for a moment, then nodded. “I know,” he said. “I was trying to imagine there was any way to keep doing that, but you’re right.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Olivia said, a flush rising on her cheeks. “I really, really want to. But if we got caught…”
He nodded, but she still felt obligated to keep going. “I need this job,” she said. “I hate this job, but I need it. I need to take care of my kid.”
“I understand,” Hugh said. “I need it too. I’m trying to help two elderly parents, I can’t afford to lose it either.”
“So we won’t do it again?” Olivia asked.
“We won’t do it again.”
Good. That was settled and it wasn’t nearly as awkward as she was afraid it would be. Olivia nodded abruptly. “Good.”
“It was fun though, wasn’t it?”
Hugh’s smile was mischievous, and she thought of the way he’d grinned at her as he had her against the wall of boxes in the stockroom. Heart pounding, she laughed. “Yeah,” she admitted. “Yeah, it was really fun.”
“But never again.”
They nodded at each other. For a second, Olivia thought they might shake on it, which might be the most awkward thing she’d ever done in her life. But instead, Hugh cleared his throat and looked up at the light fixtures above them.
“So, Boss,” he started.
His voice was teasing, and Olivia rolled her eyes. This was going to be a lot harder than she’d expected it to be.
When she found herself pinned against the jukebox fifteen minutes later, she forgot all about their deal.
Five days after their fight, Andrew still hadn’t texted and Cleo had managed not to text him. She wanted to. After she’d had some time to cool down, she knew she was the one who had started it. Kind of. At least, she’d added gasoline to the fire that was already smouldering between them.
She’d thought she wasn’t too obvious about her guilt, but apparently she’d been wrong. And Andrew was adamant that she wasn’t to blame for what happened to him. But even if she wasn’t, that didn’t mean she didn’t play a role in it. She had as much agency as he did. She just happened to be the one that got out of town after their visit.
She should call him, shouldn’t she? Cleo groaned and let her head fall back against her pillow. She didn’t want to have this conversation. And what if he just hung up on her or something? Or worse, Olivia answered the phone and Cleo had to awkwardly explain what had happened if Andrew hadn’t done so already.
Her phone buzzed on the bed beside her and she grabbed for it, positive it was Andrew. But instead, Olivia’s name was on the notification.
Are you in town tonight? I’m making soup if you or your mom want some.
Cleo had no interest in soup, not even if Liv was making it. But clearly Olivia hadn’t taken Andrew’s side, if he’d told her about it at all.
She texted back quickly.
No, I’m home tonight. But thanks.
Her phone buzzed again within a few seconds.
Are you okay?
Cleo half-sighed, half-laughed as she read the message. Not really, no. But she wasn’t sure how to put it in words. She was mad at Andrew for being a dick. She was mad at herself for being a dick. She was mad at New Winslow for being a hellhole. She was mad at the universe for existing.
Before Olivia could text her back, her phone rang. Again, not Andrew. Instead, it was her mother.
“Hello?” Cleo said, feeling her stomach drop as she answered.
There was a long pause, and Cleo waited for a second. “Hello?” she said again.
“Mom, it’s Cleo,” she said. “You called me.”
Her mother laughed, the sound brittle over the phone. “Of course,” she said. “Right. Sorry, I got distracted.”
Cleo knew neither of them believed that. “What’s up?” she asked, trying to sound casual.
“Are you coming over today?”
She hadn’t been planning on it, but if her mom needed her, she could maybe try to drive over really quick after her shift in Worcester. “We don’t have plans, but I can,” she said.
God dammit, this was how the whole mess had started, wasn’t it? Cleo never learned.
“No, no,” her mother said. “That’s fine.”
On one level, Cleo thought maybe she should fight that decision a little. Let her mom know that she would be there for her.
But on another level, Cleo was just tired. And she’d been there two days earlier. And her mother didn’t like company. So a break would do them both a favor.
“Do you have dinner?” Cleo asked.
There was a pause. “Of course I do,” her mother snapped after a moment.
Cleo didn’t bother resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “Just making sure,” she said.
“I don’t want company.”
There was a beat of silence. “Love you, Mom,” Cleo said.
“Love you too.”
Then her mom hung up, leaving an abrupt silence on the other end of the line.
Cleo set her phone down, then leaned back against the pillow and closed her eyes. That was enough New Winslow for tonight. She’d talk to Andrew tomorrow.